A titanic win
IperionX brings $82M titanium plant to Halifax
After enduring the exodus of companies like Burlington Mills and Daystrom Furniture over the past two decades, Halifax County is celebrating its biggest manufacturing announcement in decades — the arrival of Virginia’s first titanium demonstration facility.
Last fall, Charlotte, North Carolina-based IperionX Ltd., a minerals company, announced an $82.1 million investment to establish the nation’s first 100% recycled titanium metal powder manufacturing facility in a 50,000-square-foot building in the Southern Virginia Technology Park in South Boston. The three-year project will be developed over two phases. Phase one includes $12.5 million for building construction- and production-related machinery and tools, as well as hiring
41 full-time employees. That will be followed by a $69.6 million investment to expand the facility to 100,000 square feet and increase the workforce to 108 full-time workers in phase two.
IperionX anticipates having the facility outfitted by the second quarter, with operations beginning in the fourth quarter. The company plans to source 100% renewable energy to make 100% recycled titanium for use as an alloying component in advanced industries such as automotive, defense, aerospace, electric vehicles and 3D printing.
“This is a highly valued and high-growth industry,” says IperionX founder and CEO Anastasios “Taso” Arima.
Halifax County was chosen for the titanium demonstration facility after an extensive nationwide search, he says. IperionX needed a 50,000-square-foot existing building with a ceiling tall enough to accommodate overhead cranes. The company was looking for an area with strong infrastructure, a skilled workforce and renewable power. Cooperation from county and state officials also helped seal the deal.
“What we saw in South Boston ticks all the boxes,” Arima says. “This area has a lot of potential with defense applications, and Danville Community College is less than an hour away to train people to operate the type of equipment we have.”
IperionX’s goal is to develop a U.S. supply chain of sustainable, low-cost titanium metal for advanced manufacturing. Currently, 100% of titanium metal is imported from overseas, with China as the biggest source.
“The United States is vulnerable to overseas titanium metal supply chains,” Arima notes. “With this commercial facility, we will be solving a critical supply chain for the U.S.”
IperionX is poised for future growth in the region.
“This is just a start. As we see success in building our business in Southern Virginia, we will see a lot more potential for significant growth. We hope this grows into a large titanium metal producer globally with what we plan to do in Southern Virginia over the next five years,” Arima says. “From titanium metal powder, we can make traditional products like bars and plates. It’s also used in the rapidly growing 3D printing industry.”
That’s the type of news Halifax County has been waiting decades to hear. “There has not been a manufacturing announcement of this size in almost 25 years,” says Kristy Johnson, executive director of the Halifax Industrial Development Authority. “We consider it a great project that is building on our manufacturing legacy.”
The region is prepared to provide equipment operators, accountants, engineers, process technicians, electricians, welders and other skilled workers for IperionX. “We’re working with all the regional workforce training programs to recruit workers,” Johnson adds. “We have a lot of good synergy across the region.”
The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville offers training in skills ranging from advanced technology to cybersecurity and partners with Danville Community College to provide training in advanced manufacturing through the newly opened Center for Manufacturing Advancement. The U.S. Navy opened its Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence at the center in October 2022 as a platform to expand the military’s industrial base.
“Danville Community College has a very strong training program for additive manufacturing, and the Department of Defense investing more money to train people for the future in additive manufacturing is a big bonus,” Arima says.
Calvin “Ricky” Short, chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, is eager to see those jobs come to fruition and boost the area’s economy. “We’ve been waiting a long time for a company like IperionX to come to Halifax,” he says.
“We are tickled to death to have IperionX come to Halifax County and bring in more jobs. Hopefully, it will bring in more industries and encourage more people to remain in the county.”